The Argument for Training Raw (No Gear)
If wearing gear (belts, knee sleeves, lifting shoes, etc…) allows someone to instantly lift more weight then the question has to be asked, “why would you ever train workout them?!”
To answer that, you need to understand a bit about training adaptations.
~~Flash back to being brand new to lifting~~
Think about the 1st time you tried a Back Squat, very slow, shaky, and even the empty bar felt a bit difficult. Over the next few workouts that included Squats the movement quickly felt better and the weight increased almost workout trying. This is called 1st Wave Strength Gains, and it is highly neurological. Unfortunately the gains made here are mostly only applicable to the movement stated.
As the months and years progress forward, through hard work you are able to handle more weight on your Back Squat. You also notice that your legs and butt are looking stronger and leaner, hence the term “Squat Booty”. This is called 2nd Wave Strength Gains, and is the result of stronger connective tissue (muscle, tendons, ligaments) among other things. The great thing here is that this is applicable to activities outside of just squatting… things outside of the gym, new activities that you’ve never even tried before. Not to mention that stronger connective tissue means a reduced chance of injury.
Now flash forward, you’ve been working hard for a few years but you feel like your Back Squat is stuck, haven’t hit a PR (personal record) in 6 months! You decide to try special lifting shoes and knee sleeves, and BOOM 20lb increase instantly! This is called 3rd Wave Strength Gains, and is the result of assistance in the form of supportive gear. I’m sure you’ve guessed it but I’ll say it anyway, this is not applicable to anything other than the movement stated, with the gear stated.
Now that we’ve covered that, what do you think is the most crucial to focus on in our training? Connective tissue (2nd wave) is the correct answer, although there are great benefits to broadening your athletic horizons by consistently trying new activities and taking advantage of the neurological gains (1st Wave). Save the extra gear for the rare occasions when you are actually testing your strength, not while you are trying to build it.